“It’s market day in St. Denis, a small town in the Périgord region of south-west France. The locals are on the alert because inspectors are about to make a ‘surprise visit’, hoping to enforce the unpopular and bureaucratic EU hygiene rules. But for Captain Bruno Courrèges, St. Denis’ Chief of Police, this particular market day turns into something far more serious.”
And you can bet your life that the “secret” inspections are far from secret as Bruno and his fellow townsfolk have their own method of determining not only when the inspectors will arrive but who they are well in advance of the visit.
‘Any sign of them, Marie?’ he asked. ‘They hit the market at St. Alvère yesterday, so they are in the region.’
‘Not last night, Bruno Just the usual guys staying from the museum project and a Spanish truck driver,’ replied Marie, who ran the small hotel by the station. ‘But remember, after last time they were here and found nothing, I heard them talking about renting a car in Périgueux to put you off the scent. Bloody Gestapo!’
Bruno, whose loyalty was to his local community and its mayor rather than to the nominal laws of France, particularly when they were really the laws of Brussels, played a constant cat-and-mouse game with the inspectors from the European Union who were charged with enforcing EU hygiene rules in the markets of France.
Hygiene, thought the locals of St. Denis was all very well but they had been making and selling their cheeses and foie gras for centuries before the EU was ever dreamed of and didn’t take kindly to foreign bureaucrats telling the what they could and couldn’t sell.
The inspectors don’t have an easy time of it in St. Denis when their car tires are slashed and a small boy puts a potato in their car’s exhaust pipe. Mayhem, all round.
Adding to Bruno’s troubles is the fifty year old feud between two old men in the village. And then another old man is murdered. An old Arab into the bargain. And a decorated war hero. Or was he? The mystery deepens as Bruno attempts to solve them murder which quickly deepens into accusations of racial intolerance, demonstrations, small riots and other mysterious goings on, all solved by the devious and unflappable Bruno.
That is, when he isn’t cooking up a storm (which made my mouth water), describing wine as the nectar of the gods, and falling in love.
This reader definitely fell I love with Bruno, St. Denis, and all that delicious food. Oh yes, and with as delightful a set of supporting characters as you could possibly desire in a small French village.
“Bruno had never counted, but he had probably kissed a hundred women and shook hands with at least as many men each morning on market day. First this morning was Fat Jeanne, as the school-boys called her. The French, who are more attuned to the magnificent mysteries of womanhood than most, may be the only people in the world to treasure the concept of jolie laide, the plain or ugly woman who is so comfortable within her own ample skin and so cheerful in her soul that she becomes lovely.”
Oh yes, I definitely like Bruno (and his creator Martin Walker)!
Martin Walker has created a purely delightful character in Bruno. I can’t wait to read more about this creative policeman and his unorthodox approach to keeping the law in a small French village.
Title: Bruno Chief of Police
Author: Martin Walker 2008
ISBN: 978 1 84724 977 7